How do I practice my bass guitar

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Bass rudiments with Markus Setzer

The Bass Rudiments Workshop is suitable for bass beginners and guitarists who want to try this very popular second instrument. After all, being able to play the bass cannot hurt any musician, and learning the basic techniques is also possible with a borrowed instrument or an old part from the flea market. Just give it a try!

There's nothing more boring than doing exercises that aren't fun. It is therefore most important to put making music itself in the foreground - especially at the beginning. And this is exactly the motto of my way of bringing you closer to playing the bass and playing the bass: have fun!

As a motivation, there are 20 of the most famous basslines of rock history in the video:

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The first bassline

Music is primarily an auditory thing, i.e. one of hearing. Which finger you pick or strike which note is not so important at the beginning. You should slowly approach a bass line.

And there we are already at the crucial point of my concept: Namely, to start with a bass line that sounds good and grooves on its own. No stupid open string exercises that sound boring and like nothing. Motivation and, above all, fun are quickly lost

How I mean that, here now specifically: For me there is one to play with Groove many parameters that you have to pay attention to in order to play it “correctly”. You can of course view this “right” from many different perspectives. From technical, rhythmic, tonal, etc.

Check yourself!

One or more questions can be formulated for each point of view. And in my opinion these questions are of fundamental importance. With it you constantly check yourself and question your game - by the way, no matter what level you are on. So not just as a beginner; the better the bass player becomes, the more far-reaching and difficult the questions he asks.

In addition: You can only improve yourself by constantly questioning and working. So: There are parameters in music and there are questions you can ask yourself about these parameters:


  • Am I sitting or standing correctly while playing?
  • Is my hand position correct?
  • Do I play the right notes?
  • Am I striking with the right fingers?
  • How does my stop sound?
  • How does my attack feel?
  • Am I grabbing with the right fingers?
  • Do I grip too hard or too weakly?
  • Am I reaching the right place?
  • Is the rhythm that I'm playing right?

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If you are just starting to play bass, then these few questions - and not all parameters have been mentioned here by a long way - are completely overwhelming.

And now comes the crucial point: If I don't ask so many questions at the beginning, I won't be overwhelmed that quickly! True to the motto: What I do not know will not hurt me! The trick is to ask more and more questions and to look at more of these parameters with each question.

The workshop author Markus Setzer plays “The Chicken”:


At the beginning there are only two things that are decisive: hearing result and then of course the one fun. In this way you get the necessary motivation and the sense of achievement to play more and above all more bass.

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Fun first!

But I would like to know that I understand correctly: I place great value on clean technology, a nice tone, etc. But at the beginning you shouldn't overwhelm yourself with things that take some time to appear anyway. At the beginning, other things are in the foreground than the "perfect game". You should have that in mind.

The dosage is crucial. If one question is answered correctly, the next can be asked. The next question, however, will not be repeated until the previous one has been answered to your full satisfaction.

Specific exercises to specifically improve selected parameters can still be done. Incidentally, there is nothing to prevent you from dealing with two lines. Not at the same time, of course. But if you want a different groove on Monday than on Tuesday, you should give in to it.

However, too much material is problematic at the beginning. You should also be aware that the approach I have described discipline requires. This relaxed attitude only works if you gradually get to the bottom of the groove.

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The right hand position

With the following example I would like to show you how I open up bass playing to beginners:

  • How do I approach a new line that I don't know?

I look at the tablature and try to find the lowest and highest fret that I can grip. This is important for the hand position on the neck - in this context one speaks of "position". In this example, the lowest layer to be gripped is the 2nd and the highest layer to be gripped is the 3rd.

So it's not about the highest or lowest note. It's about the position of the notes on the fingerboard! Now choose the fingers of the gripping hand with which you want to grasp the notes. This applies to every run!

Don't keep changing. Rule: one finger is always responsible for an entire position. Note: in this example, the middle finger of the gripping hand would grip the note c in the third position on the A string and the note g in the third position on the E string.

Now look at the rhythmic sequence of the tones. I am assuming that you cannot read notes and rhythm. For this I wrote the numbers under the notes that indicate the meter (beats).

Count the digits regularly and then clap the rhythm of the notes.

If the rhythm is reasonably clear, try to pluck the respective strings with the index or middle finger of the striking hand. At the beginning you only have to adhere to one rule: Your thumb is placed as a fixed point on the pickup! It works? Now try to play the groove very slowly in the loop, i.e. repeating it over and over again. Please do this for as long and as often as you like until you feel reasonably safe.

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10 points for new grooves or lines

Now comes the real part of learning: If you think you can play this groove to some extent, go through the following checklist one after the other and check yourself - but please while you play !! This is very important!! Here it is: The "10-point checklist for new grooves or lines, 1st level"

  • Sitting position / standing position! Do you sit or stand relaxed?
  • Let your shoulders hang loosely! Don't cramp up!
  • Is the stop arm lying loosely on the body of the bass?
  • The middle finger and thumb of the gripping hand face each other in the middle of the neck. The wrist of the gripping hand "hangs" down. Is that true with you?
  • After each note, the striking finger lands on the string above, i.e. the thicker, lower-pitched string.
  • The index and middle fingers alternate hitting them.
  • The fingers of the gripping hand remain in their position. Please do not move your wrist or arm unnecessarily.
  • Is the rhythm of the notes to be played correct?
  • Is the thumb of the hitting hand still firmly on the pickup?
  • And: Are all the notes that I grasp still correct?

As I said, it is important to check yourself out during the game. But please do not stop and start over or even get annoyed every time you make a mistake. Always remember: Making music is not a sport!

It is also not important to immediately answer all points one hundred percent correctly. I go even further and say: if you have in mind the things you want to do right, they will come too. Some movements get stuck in! Of course, this only works with regular practice.

Jonas Hellborg will also show you practical tips for practicing the bass:

The crucial point is to let your attention circle while playing and to check and check all parameters one after the other in your head. This trains selective listening and attention. Imagine you are sitting in front of an orchestra or a big band and train yourself to listen to every single voice, i.e. every single instrument.

Have fun discovering the greatest instrument in the world (for me)!

Author: Markus Setzer

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A good teacher who gives you bass lessons according to a structured curriculum is no substitute for anything! If you still try self-study, or if you want to intensify the skills you have learned in the course, these specialist books are guaranteed to help you: To the shop!

Learn bass with Andrew Lauer

In our small video workshop series, bassist Andrew Lauer shows you various bass techniques on the acoustic bass. Like Brian Setzer, Lauer is a gifted bass player and professional musician.